Publishing Service Index: December 2017 [with notes]

news_3This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for December 2017. Our last index was released in September 2017. The index continues to shrink and the latest index sees the final departure of five companies. Frankly, they were bottom of the pile service providers. So, I shed no tears. Originally I compiled the index, month-to-month, but I found the work involved was not being compensated by enough changes on the index over a short period of weeks. Over some months the changes were often very modest, and hardly noticeable. But I know many indie authors still value this index and I will continue to update it during 2018.

IngramSpark takes back the top spot from Amazon KDP and it has left me wondering if this has much to do with Amazon tinkering with their book review system and the almost inevitable and complete merging of their print division CreateSpace with KDP. CreateSpace has made the decision to park its online bookstore and I think we will see a total merging of both print and ebook platforms during 2018. CreateSpace slipped away this year on the index but it has steadily recovered in recent months and I suspect it will re-enter the top five positions. As I predicted in September this year, Lightning Source – once a dominant service provider for authors on the index – exits the top ten for the first time and Draft2Digital takes its place.

I expect more publishing service providers to fall by the wayside and close their doors in 2018, either because of a downturn in business from authors seeking full service providers or increased competition from freemium publishing platforms (online platforms that offer free basic services for file load up and formatting software, but charge for more advanced services like design, editing and marketing). I don’t believe Nook Press will be around much longer and the index never even included services like Pronoun – in its various iterations and ownerships – which came and went.

As a publishing consultant, one additional point of note. I am finding it increasingly difficult to suggest a large and varied pool of reputable full publishing service providers to authors looking to go in that direction, particularly if an author wants both print and ebook editions of their book. More and more, we are moving to a publishing landscape where authors need to take greater control in the management of their book projects, and that means looking to publishing marketplaces to connect with professionals, whether an author is looking for a book designer, a skilled book formatter, an editor, or marketing and promotional assistance. While it is still possible to find all those services under one roof, so-to-speak, this area and the options available are shrinking, and when it comes to quality, efficient delivery of services contracted, and reputation; these are not the kind of things any serious independent author wants to compromise on.

I rarely now review new companies in the full service provider arena. I appreciate that companies keep me up to date on their development plans, but if I am brutally honest (and you know I often am!), I don’t see the innovation in publishing I experienced going back over the past five years. Often, new startups come with great plans and ideas, but they either come and go before ever finding their footing after a year or two or simply mimic the Author Solutions model of gouging and exploiting authors (often new) as a production mill to make money. I’m still excited by new digital publishing startups. The author-publisher market continues to be very competitive and no longer suffers fools or those in it for a quick buck.

TIPM and Radio Espial has conducted audio and video interviews with the former CEO of Hillcrest Media, Mark Levine, indie author Linda Riesenberg Fisler, and Kevin Spall of Thomson-Shore. We will have more interviews with authors and publishers in 2018. If you haven’t seen the interviews, you can view or listen to them by visiting the Radio Espial website for all the links (iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube etc.).

TIPM continues to receive regular feedback on services through comments under our reviews, via our TIPM Facebook page, and directly to us. We want to thank all of those who took the time to share their publishing experiences. Your comments are always welcome and every comment and experience of a publishing service — positive or negative — is always read and reflected in every new index published through TIPM.


1 2 IngramSpark GLOBAL PRT/FSP 844.60 UP
2 1 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) GLOBAL DIY 838.89 DOWN
3 3 Matador UK FSP 744.16 SAME
4 4 Smashwords USA DIY 734.69 SAME
5 5 Kobo Writing Life GLOBAL DIY 701.30 SAME
6 8 CreateSpace GLOBAL DIY/FSP 578.80 UP
7 6 Blurb GLOBAL DIY 574.85 DOWN
8 7 Silverwood Books UK FSP 574.67 DOWN
9 9 Thomson-Shore GLOBAL FSP 553.22 SAME
10 11 Draft2Digital UK/USA DIY 545.97 UP
11 10 Lightning Source GLOBAL PRT/FULL 529.13 DOWN
12 12 BookLocker USA FSP 510.51 SAME
13 14 Epigraph Publishing Service USA FSP 461.28 UP
14 16 Pressbooks USA DIY 460.97 UP
15 15 Dog Ear Publishing USA FSP 449.62 SAME
16 13 Hillcrest Media/Mill City Press USA PUB/FSP 448.09 DOWN
17 19 Lulu GLOBAL DIY/FSP 445.47 UP
18 18 Mijn Bestseller EUROPE DIY 445.04 SAME
19 17 USA PRT/FULL 441.82 DOWN
20 20 CPI UK Antony Rowe EUROPE PRT 430.42 SAME
21 22 Unbound UK PUB/CRW 418.29 UP
22 21 York Publishing Services UK PRT/FULL 414.98 DOWN
23 26 John Hunt Publishing UK FSP/FSP 413.26 UP
24 25 Publish Green GLOBAL FSP 403.40 UP
25 23 Bookbaby USA DIY/FSP 400.07 DOWN
26 24 Google Play Books GLOBAL DIY 396.74 DOWN
27 27 Grosvenor House Publishing UK FSP 392.07 SAME
28 29 Wingspan Press USA FSP 388.90 UP
29 30 Checkpoint Press IRELAND PUB/FSP 377.93 UP
30 28 Nook Press (B&N) USA DIY 376.83 DOWN
31 31 eBookIT GLOBAL DIY/FSP 374.05 SAME
32 32 Aventine USA FSP 373.40 SAME
33 34 Book Guild Publishing UK FSP 370.95 UP
34 36 The Choir Press UK/USA FSP 369.83 UP
35 33 Cold River Studio USA FSP 369.02 DOWN
36 35 SelfPublishBooks/Lettertec IRELAND FSP 368.54 DOWN
37 37 Wheatmark Publishing USA FSP 367.13 SAME
38 38 Wasteland Press USA FSP 362.76 SAME
39 39 Infinity Publishing USA FSP 360.66 SAME
40 40 Virtualbookworm USA FSP 355.56 SAME
41 41 Acorn Independent Press UK FSP 355.57 SAME
42 42 Americas Press USA PRT 354.67 SAME
43 43 Apex Publishing UK PUB/FSP 348.61 SAME
44 47 Pumbo EUROPE DIY 348.55 UP
45 44 Authoright UK/USA FSP 347.03 UP
46 46 Telemachus Press USA FSP 346.67 SAME
47 45 FastPencil USA DIY 342.91 DOWN
48 48 Janus Publishing UK FSP 342.31 SAME
49 49 Outskirts Press USA FSP 338.90 SAME
50 50 Kazoo Publishing Services IRELAND FSP 338.62 SAME
51 51 Diadem Books UK/USA FSP 338.23 SAME
52 52 Pyjama Press UK/EUROPE FSP 335.61 SAME
53 53 A.H. Stockwell UK FSP 335.20 SAME
54 54 PubliBook EUROPE DIY 333.87 SAME
55 55 Xulon Press USA FSP 333.37 SAME
56 59 BreezeWayBooks (Ex-Lluminia Press) USA PUB/FSP 333.18 UP
57 56 Direct POD UK PRT 331.70 DOWN
58 57 Eprint Ireland IRELAND PRT 331.43 DOWN
59 58 Kbuuk USA DIY 331.31 DOWN
60 60 Arima UK FSP 324.75 SAME
61 62 Pomegranate Press UK/USA FSP 324.05 UP
62 61 iUniverse USA FSP 320.87 DOWN
63 63 Abbott Press USA PUB/FSP 318.07 SAME
64 64 Turning Stone Press USA FSP 317.45 SAME
65 65 Chandler Book Design UK PRT 314.12 SAME
66 66 Archway Publishing GLOBAL PUB/FSP 306.54 SAME
67 68 Choice Publishing IRELAND FSP 302.06 UP
68 67 Dolman Scott/Oak Press UK FSP 301.32 DOWN
69 69 WestBow Press USA PUB/FSP 299.88 SAME
70 70 Epic Press UK FSP 297.90 SAME
71 71 Trafford Publishing USA FSP 293.22 SAME
72 72 Austin MacAuley UK FSP 289.33 SAME
73 74 ShopMyBook (Unibook) GLOBAL PRT 283.40 UP
74 73 Balboa Press GLOBAL PUB/FSP 280.96 DOWN
75 75 Dorrance Press USA FSP 281.06 UP
76 76 Spiderwize UK FSP 277.92 SAME
77 77 AuthorHouse GLOBAL FSP 254.06 SAME
78 78 Melrose Books UK FSP 253.66 SAME
79 79 Xlibris GLOBAL FSP 230.43 SAME
80 80 Better Book Company UK FSP 209.59 SAME
81 81 Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie UK PUB/FSP 191.59 SAME
82 82 Olympia Publishers UK PUB/FSP 147.65 SAME
  • DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke services and basic conversion and formatting services
  • FSP – Full Service Provider (Packages & Bespoke) – May also include Partnership publishing programs
  • PUB – Also offers Mainstream Contracts or is a service imprint of a traditional publishing house
  • PRT – Printer (primarily a printer with some additional but limited services)
  • FULL – Fulfilment Services provided for distribution logistics, warehousing of stock (including supply to wholesaler and retailers)
  • CRW – Crowdsource
  • CLOSED/OFB – Closed or out of publishing business

There is a much more detailed explanation of what the Publishing Service Index is and how authors can best use it in this post.

The most asked question we get at The Independent Publishing Magazine is often along the lines of; ‘What self-publishing service should I go with?‘; ‘Is so and so a good service to go with?‘; or ‘Is so and so a scam?‘

In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company’s name, nor are we here to endorse a company’s services. If we were only to review companies according to every point on an ideal dream list of what an author wants/should get, we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only a few have recorded more than 08/10.

The reality is that some companies offering publishing services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and they improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable or better services. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews.

We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day – good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.

So, how do we reflect the changing ups and downs with services?

We believe the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we present is a kind of stock exchange for companies supplying publisher services.

The PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX was first launched in June 2010.

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